A staple of FEW, industry awards celebrate 19-year history

By Matt Thompson | May 28, 2019

This year marks the 19th year the Award of Excellence and the High Octane Award, formerly known as the Distinguished Service Award, will be presented at the Fuel Ethanol Workshop and Expo. 

“They really represent a who’s who, both on the technical side and on the advocacy side,” of the ethanol industry, said Tom Bryan, president of BBI International, publisher of Ethanol Producer Magazine.

The Award of Excellence recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to the fuel ethanol industry through their research, technical advisory and/or development activities. The High Octane Award recognizes a person whose passion and unstoppable pursuits have significantly benefited the ethanol industry.

“We consider the High Octane Award to be almost like the spirit award, and the Award of Excellence is an accolade for technical achievement,” Bryan said.

Recipients of both awards are selected by the previous recipients, which Bryan says, makes them special. “You can see the emotion in their voice and you really know how special it is to them.”

Past winners of the awards include, Graeme Walker, Kristy Moore, Dave Vander Griend, Dennis Vander Griend, Patrick Foody, Dr. Raphael Katzen, Charles Abbas and David Kolsrud, among many others. “These are real trail blazers in the industry,” Bryan said

Dennis Bayrock of Phibro Ethanol Performance Group received the Award of Excellence in 2017. At that time, he said, “This year, I’m going to be a part of a select group. It’s very humbling.”

Graeme Walker of Abertay University, accepting the Award of Excellence at last year’s FEW said, “It’s a fantastic award and I’m extremely honored to accept this accolade.”

The awards themselves are also special, as they’re hand-made by Colorado artist Tammy Grubisha (http://www.tammygrubisha.com/). “They’re probably some of the nicest awards that you could ask for,” Bryan said. “It’s something that people, I think, are really happy to take home.” This will be the 10th year Grubisha has made the awards.

Bryan said BBI co-founder Kathy Bryan was the champion of the awards during their early days. She was passionate about them and was herself a winner in 2009. “Kathy had been, not only a company founder, but an industry pioneer,” Bryan said. “You could probably say that Kathy and others like her really embody what the awards are all about, especially the High Octane Award.”

And recognizing those individuals’ efforts are why the awards are important, Bryan said. “There are so many who go unrecognized who have done huge things for our industry, and it’s nice that we can help bring awareness and recognition to these people who have really dedicated their whole careers to ethanol production.”